What is a myelogram?

Patients with chronic neck pain may feel accompanying symptoms that radiate out to the extremities. This pain can become so severe that patients begin to notice a decrease in quality of life because their neck and related symptoms prevent them from doing the things they enjoy.

If you are experiencing this type of pain, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause of symptoms. He or she should perform a full evaluation, and may order tests to help understand why you are experiencing this pain and how to effectively treat your condition. There are a few tests that your doctor can order. An MRI and CT scan are two common forms of diagnostic imagery to help view your spinal area to determine if there is a condition causing painful nerve compression. Another diagnostic test that can provide doctors with a more in-depth view is called a myelogram.

Purpose of a myelogram test

A myelogram is an imaging test in which contrast dye is injected directly into the spinal canal in order to better reveal spine problems on an X-ray or CT scan. It can be used primarily when an MRI or CT scan does not reveal enough information about the cause of neck pain or back pain. However, as MRI and CT scan technology have improved, the use of a myelogram has become less common.

When the dye has spread throughout the spine, a medical professional can use the X-ray or CT scan image to locate the source of neck or back pain. Conditions that can be detected through the use of a myelogram include:

If you are diagnosed with one or more of these spinal conditions, your doctor will suggest treatment options based on the severity of your neck or back pain and on your level of mobility. Many spinal problems can be treated nonsurgically, using conservative methods such as physical therapy or pain medicine.

Risks of myelogram test

Because a myelogram is an invasive procedure, there is slightly more patient risk than with a CT scan or MRI alone. One potential side effect is a called a spinal headache, which can occur in the hours immediately after the test if fluid leaks from the injection spot. Patients who have had migraines in the past are more susceptible to headaches following a myelogram. The problem can be treated with an infusion of a patient’s blood into the original injection spot.

Most patients experience only mild discomfort, normally associated with tenderness in the skin around the point of injection. The contrast dye can be absorbed by the body in a few days, or it can be withdrawn intravenously after the myelogram is complete.

Next step after myelogram test

If your myelogram test determines that you have a spine condition that needs to be treated, speak with your doctor about the treatment options available to you. While many spine conditions can be effectively treated through conservative methods of treatment such as pain medication and physical therapy, more severe conditions may need a spinal surgery procedure for treatment.

For more information about your spine condition and the treatment options available to you, contact the caring team at Laser Spine Institute. Our goal is to help you find answers about your spine condition and treatment options so you can make an informed decision about your health care needs. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery offers our patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures.^

Ask for your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.